- Denmark is the oldest European country that is a monarchy with continuity of power. It has been headed by a royal family since 935. Currently, the position of head of state is held by Margrethe II. The office is mainly representative, as the Danish Parliament holds the actual legislative power. Every year, the royal couple go on a sommertogt – a summer cruise on the royal ship Dannebrog, which calls at various ports to greet the local community.
- Danes speak Danish because it is their official language. You can also communicate with them in Swedish or English. Greenlandic is spoken in Greenland and Faroese in the Faroe Islands.
- Denmark’s climate can be described as moderately warm. Winters are short and cold, summers too wet, which is due to the proximity to the sea. In July, the average temperature is around 17ํ°C. It is rare to experience snow there. The weather in Denmark can be changeable, but Danes believe that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
- Denmark achieves the highest freedom index in the European Union. It is a great place for entrepreneurs, thus attracting investors from all over the world.
- Danes are considered to be one of the happiest nations in the world. They are a cheerful, positive, curious and active people. The Danish atmosphere and everyday philosophy of life is best expressed by the word „hygge”. It means a state of happiness, contentment, warmth and living at peace with oneself and one’s surroundings. The word Hygge is derived from the Danish adjective „hyggelig”, which describes everything that is pleasant, enjoyable and comfortable. Hygge is something that makes you feel better. The word also describes places where you feel safe and at ease, where you can relax. Hygge is also about the mood over a good local meal by candlelight and wine.
The hygge atmosphere is primarily created by people, reciprocity, calmness, sharing and enjoying a tasty meal, and enjoying being together. The use of phones during this time is not well appreciated. Danes are very family-oriented. They love to spend time with family and with friends.
The hygge atmosphere is also emphasised by the glow of candles. It is said that the Danes consume the most candles in the world. Hygge means everything that brings joy and peace of mind. The hygge philosophy allows us to enjoy the little things.
- Danes highly value a work-life balance, which is why they only work 33 hours a week.
In the city rankings for quality of life, Copenhagen is at the top. There are plenty of green open spaces where, when the weather is good, you can spend time enjoying the sunshine. Danes take advantage of every moment when the weather is nice. On sunny days, Copenhageners like to spend time at Ørstedsparken or on the harbourfront, where they sit on the grass and eat the snacks they have brought with them. Picnicking outdoors is quite normal there. Barbecues are also permitted. There are no bans there. Even in the Royal Gardens – Kongens Have – you can walk on the grass. The Danes take care to clean up after themselves.
On summer sunny days, Copenhageners enjoy sunbathing at Assistens Cemetery. Families go there with their children for a picnic. No one is surprised by people walking around in bathing suits. According to the Danes, the cemetery is also a place of life and is not only associated with death.
In winter, Copenhageners spend their leisure time in atmospheric cafés illuminated by candlelight or a fire in the fireplace. In spring, on the other hand, they feast in parks and on the streets. Street food is also very popular. The former paper factory, Papirøen, is home to more than 30 food trucks and stalls selling delicacies from all over the world. Vegetarians can also find something for themselves there. It is a place that is good for every budget.
Copenhagen has many clubs where you can spend an evening. You can find dozens of music bars and discos that stay open late into the night on weekends. There is something for everyone, e.g. for fans of jazz and hip hop, the 70s-style Stereo Bar is a good place. Lovers of blues and folk music can have a good time at Mojo Blues Bar.
Strøget in Copenhagen is about 3.2 km long. It is the oldest and longest pedestrian street in the world. It leads to Nyhavn. There are many places of interest on Strøget, such as:
– Royal Copenhagen’s company shop, where you can buy royal porcelain. The brand was founded in the 18th century by Queen Juliana Maria,
– Illums Bolighus, which features an Arne Jacobsen-designed 'ant’ chair that tourists can sit on. Unique Normann Copenhagen lamps can also be seen there,
– the Magasin du Nord department store, which was built in 1870. There you can see collections by famous Danish designers,
– shopping malls, which are worth a look even if you don’t plan to go shopping, as they look like modern museums.
At Nørreport station in Copenhagen, there are the elegant market halls of Torvehallerne. There are stalls selling fresh vegetables, fish and seafood, as well as smørrebrød. There are also stalls with dishes from all over the world.
Christiania – this is the famous free city, founded by the Hippies in the early 1970s. It was to be an area where there is no private property and all decisions are made collectively. Violence, theft, heavy drugs, weapons and the entry of cars were banned there. Police power is said not to reach there, and light drugs are sold in the shops. According to the townspeople, such stories are legends. There, you can see people riding Christiania bikes – bicycles with an extension on the front, which once conquered Denmark.
Copenhagen is a city of many nationalities, which is most evident in the Norrebro district. Some call it the new Christiania. There are many artists, writers who have peaceful relations with the Muslims who live there. The district is one of the favourites of the local youth.
There is the Sankt Hans Torv square, which is home to two iconic pubs: Pussy Galore Flying Circus and Cafe Sebastopol. Denmark is one of the homelands of beer, so it is mainly beer that is drunk in these pubs. Beer is much cheaper here than in Sweden, which is why many Swedes visit at weekends. When the weather is warm, the owners fill the whole square with tables and umbrellas. In the middle of the square there is a beautiful modern fountain where you can cool down. It also provides a backdrop for the artists performing on the square. To the west of Sankt Hans Torv is Assistens Kirkegard-Park, which is a combination of park and cemetery. Among others, Hans Christian Andersen is buried there.
- The Danes are defined by three key characteristics: minimalism, ecology and happiness. They are able to combine tradition and modernity very seamlessly. They are friendly, but it is difficult to win their friendship.
Almost 40% of the electricity produced in Denmark comes from wind farms. In Denmark, you can drink water directly from the tap because it is very pure. Danish tap water is one of the cleanest in the world.
There are no curtains or drapes in Danish windows because Danes believe they have nothing to hide. Covering the windows is perceived as an attempt to separate oneself from society. Danes do not like to separate themselves from other people, but they take a long time to allow someone new into their personal space.
The Danes are characterised by a very peculiar sense of humour, which means that even in jokes they often take offence at each other. When meeting them, it is better to be careful with your words and not to make jokes, as this can be misconstrued. Danes openly express their opinions and are concerned about what someone will think of them.
Even if the street is empty, no one will run a red light. The same goes for waiting in line. If someone tries to shove their way through, they will immediately be set straight.
- Danes adhere to the principle of social equality. They do not like it when someone exalts themselves and boasts about, for example, their money or talent. Tipping is not practised in Denmark, but in a restaurant you might be asked how much to put on the bill. If you refuse, no one will be offended. If you do decide to tip, it must not exceed 10 per cent of the bill, as this will be seen as flaunting your money.
The most popular means of transport among both Danish residents and tourists is the bicycle. Denmark has around 10,000 km of cycle paths, making it possible to get almost anywhere by bicycle. Almost everyone rides a bicycle in Denmark – pupils, students, working people and even politicians. Tourists also mostly reach for a bike to explore this beautiful country. Even in winter, most people get around by bike. When it snows, the cycle paths are cleared first.
What sets the Danish capital apart from the capitals of other countries is its more than century-old cycling infrastructure. There are around 400 km of cycle routes. This makes it an inspiration for cities all over the world. The cycle paths are one-way and on both sides of the street. There are also sections referred to as 'green routes’, where you cycle without having to stop at a red light. Copenhagen has a bike-sharing system that is designed for residents, but can also be used by tourists. Owning a car in Denmark is something very rare, even a luxury.
Bornholm is described as an island of cyclists. On almost every road there are dark green signs with the inscription „cykelvej”, meaning „cycle path”. They also contain information on place names and distances. A third of the cycle tracks on Bornholm were created on the site of the decommissioned tracks of the Bornholm Railway. There are more bikes than cars on the island. There is a cycle ring around the island (cycle route 10). The southern Bornholm cycle route is easier and the northern route is more difficult, but not so difficult that someone with less experience cannot cope.
Bornholm is a great place for an active break for the whole family. You will find a bike rack at every service point. The locals do not care about securing the bikes against theft. What is more, there are unmanned shops on the island, with price tags next to the goods and a piggy bank next to it, into which you throw money for your purchases. Denmark is regarded as a very peaceful and safe country.
Before Bornholm became a tourist attraction, the locals made their living by fishing. To this day there are herring smokehouses. You can enjoy the regional delicacy of Sol over Gudhjem, a sandwich with herring, egg and capers.
- Danes love all kinds of activity, especially handball, which is their national sport. Other favourite activities for Danes include cycling, running and swimming. Learning to swim is part of the compulsory curriculum in all Danish state schools. Therefore, most Danes can swim.
- When visiting Danish cities, it is also worth exploring them at night. Many of them have a very interesting entertainment offer, so you can relax after an active day. Danish cities have numerous atmospheric pubs where you can enjoy great music, a tasty meal, surrounded by candlelight.
- At Christmas, Danes colourfully decorate the streets and Christmas trees. They hold numerous markets in the squares. Since 1914, there has been a rule that the first lit Christmas tree must be lit at Rådhuspladsen in Copenhagen. Christmas begins in Denmark on 23 December. Christmas trees are decorated with miniature Danish flags.
- During the Easter period, Danes send each other Gækkebrev – an Easter letter that is sent anonymously to family or friends. The recipient has to guess who the author of the letter is.
- In February, the Danes celebrate Fastelavn, which is the equivalent of a carnival with medieval traditions. This festival includes balls and costume parades, as well as traditional competitions and games. A Danish delicacy, which is sweet cream buns, is then served. In the past, a barrel was hung on a tree during this festival, into which the black cat was buried. Sticks were struck on the barrel to destroy it. The person from whose impact the bottom of the barrel fell off won various prizes. In the middle of the 18th century, protests against animal abuse began to emerge and the Danes abandoned the game.
- Danes celebrate birthdays very lavishly, especially round birthdays. People who remain single on their 25th birthday are showered with cinnamon. 25-year-old single women are called 'pepper ladies’, while men are called 'pepper bachelors’. According to tradition, these people are tied to a lantern and sprinkled with large quantities of cinnamon. If their partnership status remains unchanged for another five years, they are sprinkled with pepper on their 30th birthday.
- Danish cuisine
In Danish cuisine, modern cooking incorporates traditions from centuries ago. Often the flavours of traditional cuisine are combined with spices from other parts of the world. The dishes are prepared from natural ingredients that are available there. It is a seasonal cuisine in which fish such as herring, cod, salmon, mackerel or trout are prepared in many ways. Due to the climate, they are properly preserved, smoked or dried. You can also find seafood from cold seas such as scallops or lobster.
Denmark is an ideal destination for fishing enthusiasts. The most common fish species are sea trout, brook trout and rainbow trout. In the lakes you can find bream, pike and also perch. In estuaries and the sea, eels, flounder and also perch can be found.
In addition to fish, Danish cuisine also reaches for pork or beef. Wholemeal bread or pumpernickel is an integral part of many meals, as are potatoes. Preserved cabbage or cucumbers are also served, which are often pickled sweet. Traditional Danish dishes are quite simple. Nothing is allowed to go to waste there, hence many ingredients are used for them.
The most common spices used in Denmark are salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, parsley, dill and also chives.
Danish cuisine incorporates Scandinavian traditions. It is famous for its nutritious dishes that are prepared from local products. Elements of continental cuisine can also be seen in it. Ecology plays an important role in the preparation of meals. Danes rarely eat soups because they take a long time to prepare. A Danish dinner usually consists of fish, potatoes and vegetables in vinegar. Danes also eat Frokost – this is the meal between breakfast and lunch, the so-called 'sub-dinner’.
The most popular Danish dishes are:
- Smørrebrød sandwiches made of wholemeal bread with vegetables and various toppings, such as herring, salmon, cod, anchovies or caviar. They are not filling enough to eat, but taste insanely good with beer. Denmark also serves sandwiches with marinated pork, raw beef, Danish bacon, liver pate or sweet-marinated cabbage. Smørrebrød is one of the most commonly eaten cold snacks in Denmark,
- frikadeller – minced cutlets made from beef and pork,
- biksemad – fried meat, potatoes, onions, pickled beetroot and topped with a fried egg,
- herring in cream with dill or marinated in sweet pickle. They are also served on sandwiches together with onions, egg and tomato. They are usually served as a snack before the main course,
- roast pork loin served with a dark sauce,
- butter biscuits, which can be found in most Danish shops, as Danes love them.
Meals are usually accompanied by beer or schnapps. At Christmas time, Danes drink glögg, or mulled wine, which is much loved throughout Scandinavia.
The most popular spirits in Denmark is Aquavit. It is a vodka with a unique caraway aroma. Aniseed and cardamom are added to it, as well as lemon peel or orange slices. Denmark’s alcohol policy is quite liberal. Danish law does not prohibit the consumption of low alcohol in public places.
- The tradition of Fredagsslik, or Friday candy madness. Every Friday, Danish children buy landrynki, jelly beans and jellies to sit through the Disney Sjov programme in the evening.
- The modern Bluetooth technology is named after the first Viking king, Harald Blåtand (Sinose). This king subjugated Norway in 970 and contributed to the truce between the Danes and Norwegians – just as Bluetooth connects different technologies, such as phones, computers and printers.
- Parents who are expecting a baby put a wooden stork in front of the house, which holds a nappy in its beak. The colour of the nappy depends on the sex of the baby. Neighbours throw small gifts for the baby in there.